Court Security - Pasco County

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PASCO AND PINELLAS COUNTIES, FLORIDA

 

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 2009-083 PA-CIR

 

RE:     COURT SECURITY – PASCO COUNTY                      

 

            The Sheriff, either in person or by deputies, must attend all terms of the circuit court and county court held in Pasco County and may be ordered to provide security to sequestered juries.  See §§ 30.15(1)(c), and 30.501, Florida Statutes. 

            In order to promote the safety and security of all court facilities and proceedings in Pasco County; and

In order to ensure access to court proceedings as guaranteed by the First Amendment in a manner that also protects the public interest in providing for the orderly and safe transaction of court business, and

            In order to assist the Chief Judge, the Circuit Court Judges, the County Court Judges and the Sheriff in carrying out their respective constitutional and statutory duties, and

            Pursuant to the authority of the Chief Judge Rule of Judicial Administration 2.215 and
§ 43.26, Florida Statutes,

IT IS ORDERED:

1.  Definitions

            For purposes of this administrative order, the term “court facility” means the areas in a courthouse where court functions are performed and includes but is not limited to courtrooms, hearing rooms, judicial chambers, offices of court staff, witness rooms, juror assembly rooms, jury deliberation rooms, the offices of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and adjacent areas such as restrooms, break rooms, conference rooms, and reception areas in the following locations and includes any other buildings subsequently designated for court functions:    

The Pasco County Courthouse, 38053 Live Oak Avenue, Dade City

The West Pasco Judicial Center, 7530 Little Road, New Port Richey, FL

The Pasco Historic Courthouse, 37918 Meridian Avenue, Dade City when specifically designated for court proceedings. 

 

2.   Sheriff’s responsibilities

 

The Sheriff of Pasco County shall take reasonable steps as defined in this Administrative Order to provide for:  

 

            a.  the safety of the Court, lawyers, parties, witnesses, jurors, court staff, and the public in court proceedings, and

 

            b.  the orderly and safe transaction of court business. 

 

The Sheriff may take additional lawful steps if in the Sheriff’s professional judgment such steps are desirable to achieve these goals as long as the additional steps are not in conflict with an Administrative Order or an order of a presiding judge. 

 

3.  Security in court proceedings

The Sheriff of Pasco County shall provide security for all circuit court and county court proceedings including, but not limited to:

a.  all trials and hearings conducted by judges unless otherwise directed by the judge, and

b.   all proceedings or hearings, except Baker Act hearings, of general and special magistrates, hearing officers, arbitrators, and mediators (excluding private arbitrators and mediators),  unless otherwise directed by the magistrate, hearing officer, arbitrator, or mediator.

All security measures within a courtroom or hearing room are subject to the presiding judge’s or presiding officer’s ability to control the conduct of court proceedings.

4.  Orderly and safe transaction of court business 

For purposes of this paragraph only, the term “court facility” also includes areas for ingress and egress to the portions of a courthouse where court functions are performed and includes but is not limited to the courthouse lobby, hallways, stairwells, escalators, and elevators. 

a.  Conduct prohibited in a court facility

In order to ensure the integrity of the judicial process and the orderly and safe transaction of court business, a citizen’s first amendment right to observe court proceedings or to access court facilities may be restricted.  See e.g., Huminski v. Corsones, 396 F. 3d 53 (2d Cir. 2004); Braun v. Baldwin, 346 F. 3d 761 (7th Cir. 2003); Mead v. Gordon, 583 F. Supp. 2d 1231 (D. Oregon 2008).  Accordingly, in order to provide for an orderly and safe place to transact court business, the following conduct is not permitted in a court facility: 

1.  Conduct that disrupts court proceedings,

2.  Conduct that violates the rule of sequestration of witnesses,

3.   Conduct that intimidates or attempts to intimidate a party, witness, victim, victim’s family, attorney, or judge in a court proceeding,

4.  Conduct that purposefully obstructs the passage of other persons in the            facility,

5.   Conduct that causes bias or prejudice or attempts to cause bias or prejudice to the trier of fact if such activities are allowed to occur,

6.  Conduct that may prejudice jurors,

7.  Conduct that may reasonably pose a threat to other persons in the facility,

8.  Conduct that may reasonably pose a threat to property.

9.  Entry into restricted areas of the court facility.

 

b.  Conduct prohibited in a courtroom

All conduct that is prohibited in a court facility is prohibited in a courtroom.  The following additional conduct is not permitted in a courtroom or hearing room during court proceedings unless otherwise authorized by the presiding judge or presiding officer:

1.   The wearing of any clothing that reflects disrespect for or disrupts court proceedings,

2.  Talking by persons in the audience during the proceedings,

3.   The use of a cell phone, laptop, PDA, texting device, or other electronic equipment, that disrupts court proceedings,

4.   Unauthorized communication to persons outside of the courtroom,  

5.  Possession of personal property banned from the courtroom, 

6.   Any other behavior that interferes with the dignified and solemn nature of court proceedings.

This subparagraph is not intended to restrict the right of the press to report on court proceedings in accordance with Rule of Judicial Administration 2.450 and Administrative Order 2008-076. 

c.  Enforcement of restrictions on conduct

 

When a deputy sheriff observes conduct that is prohibited in a courtroom or in a court facility, the deputy shall warn the individual to cease the behavior.  If the individual continues to engage in prohibited behavior in a courtroom or court facility, the deputy sheriff shall remove the individual from the courtroom or court facility unless the individual is a party, attorney, witness, or juror in the proceeding, in which case the behavior shall be brought to the attention of the presiding judge or presiding officer.  A warning is not required if the individual is engaging in disorderly conduct prohibited by § 877.03, Florida Statutes, disturbing assemblies prohibited by
§ 871.01, Florida Statutes, or otherwise engaging in criminal conduct. 

When persons are removed from the courtroom or court facility, the deputy sheriff shall place reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the individual’s return to the courtroom or court facility. Such restrictions are to be based upon the reason for the individual’s removal.  Unless specifically authorized by the Court, an individual may not be prohibited from attending hearings in his or her case, from responding to a summons or subpoena, or from filing pleadings with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, but such access may, without Court authorization, be restricted by requiring that the individual be accompanied by a deputy sheriff or court security personnel. 

 

 

5.  Weapons prohibited

            Except for judges, bailiffs, and law enforcement officers as provided in this paragraph, no person possessing a firearm, taser, electronic control weapon, ammunition, knife, mace, pepper spray, or dangerous weapon may enter or occupy a court facility.   

 

Sworn officers from law enforcement agencies listed on Attachment A are exempt from the prohibition in this paragraph provided:

 

a.       the officer is in a recognized law enforcement uniform,

b.      the officer is in the court facility on official business,

c.       the officer displays appropriate identification, and

d.      any firearm in possession of the officer is in a secure holster.

 

Detectives and supervisors in the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department and all law enforcement officers who are assigned to court security are exempt from the prohibition in this paragraph provided:

 

a.       the individual is in the court facility on official business,

b.      the individual displays appropriate identification, and

c.       any firearm in possession of the detective is in a secure holster.

 

6.  Security checkpoints

 

a.   The Sheriff of Pasco County shall take such reasonable steps as are necessary to ensure that no firearms, tasers, electronic control weapons, ammunition, knives, mace, pepper spray, other dangerous weapons, or other items that can be used as weapons, are in the possession of any individual entering a court facility except as authorized in this Administrative Order.  These steps may include but are not limited to use of facial recognition systems, metal detection devices, hand-held electronic scanning devices, personal or other searches, or pat-downs by law enforcement officers.  If a person refuses the request of a law enforcement officer to submit to any security measure, the person may be denied access beyond the security device.

 

b.   If a person who is in a courthouse is denied entry or taken into custody, the bailiff shall take all reasonable steps to notify the Court if such person is a witness, defendant, victim, or attorney in a pending proceeding before the Court.  Upon notification from the Court that the person is needed for court proceedings, the bailiff shall follow the Court’s direction. 

 

            c.   The Pasco County Department of Facilities Management shall post a notice outside the entrance to security checkpoints that persons entering the court facility are subject to security procedures. 

 

            d.   Facial recognition systems shall be operated in such a manner to ensure that scans which do not produce a match are not retained in the system.

 

            e.   At the public entrance to all court facilities in Pasco County any judge, judicial assistant, or court employee displaying identification shall not be subject to security measures unless the law enforcement officer has a reasonable basis to question the validity of the identification.

 

f.    Any contractor for the court, employee of the offices of the State Attorney, Public Defender, Regional Counsel, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Pasco County, attorney with an identification issued by the Sheriff as set forth in subparagraph g., or other county officer or employee using the public entrance to a court facility shall pass through the metal detection devices located at such public entrance.

 

            g.   Members of the Florida Bar, in good standing, who have their principal office in the Sixth Judicial Circuit or who practice regularly in Pasco County, may apply to the Sheriff of Pasco County for a picture identification card that will allow express entry at the West Pasco Judicial Center and Dade City Courthouse.  The attorney is still required to pass through security but will be provided express entry.  The Sheriff shall issue such identification cards to attorneys meeting this requirement, who are approved by the Chief Judge, who pass a background check, who pay a reasonable fee for such identification card, and who otherwise satisfy any other reasonable requirements that the Sheriff may impose to ensure security.

 

            Administrative Order 2008-072 PA-CIR is hereby rescinded.

 

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this ______ day of December 2009.                     

                                                           

 

                                                                                                ______________________________                                                                                                J. Thomas McGrady, Chief Judge

 

cc:        All Judges

            The Honorable Bernie McCabe, State Attorney

            The Honorable Robert H. Dillinger, Public Defender

            The Honorable Paula S. O’Neil, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Pasco County

            The Honorable Bob White, Sheriff, Pasco County

            The Honorable Jim Coats, Sheriff, Pinellas County

            Jackson Flyte, Regional Counsel

            Suzanne Mucklow, Executive Director, Pinellas County Clerk’s Office

            Gay L. Inskeep, Trial Courts Administrator

Kerry Rice, Senior Deputy Courts Administrator

            Colonel Nienhuis, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office

            Captain Ingold, Court Security Division, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

            Bar Associations, Pasco and Pinellas Counties

            Law Libraries, Pasco and Pinellas Counties

Dade City Police Department

New Port Richey Police Department

Port Richey Police Department

Zephyrhills Police Department

Florida Highway Patrol

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

 

 

 

 

 

ATTACHMENT A – Law Enforcement Agencies

 

 

Pasco County Sheriff’s Department

Dade City Police Department

New Port Richey Police Department

Port Richey Police Department

Zephyrhills Police Department

 

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida Highway Patrol

 

Sworn officers in other Florida jurisdictions may be allowed on a case by case basis with prior approval of the presiding judge.